Ever since I was young, when someone talked about pageants, I scrunched up my nose and tuned them out. You see, in my mind pageants were designed ONLY for the skinny and slim, the beautiful and flawless skinned girls. To be in a pageant you needed to have the nice slender long legs and eat the most healthiest foods and be very intelligent. But, little did I know not all pageants were focused on beauty and the outward appearance. Throughout Miss Africa Whatcom County, i’ve learned things about myself that I didn’t know, I’ve learned to embrace my small, stout and muscular figure with pride, that constantly comparing myself (especially my height difference) to the other girls was something that only exhausted me rather than benefit me. My patience was tested many times during this short season of my life. There were times I felt like getting up and leaving, going up to the director and opting out of the whole thing, but each time my patience was tested, I realized it made me a better listener and potentially I gained friends as a result. This entire time I learned to put myself aside to place others first and how rewarding that is! I’ve began to see that friendship isn’t based on age. I’ve never been one who liked being the center of attention, so placing myself out there like that was a huge deal for me. Not only would I be speaking in front of people (public speaking had never been my thing), but I would also be dancing and exposing parts of me that hurt to think about. This definitely placed me way beyond my comfort zone, but because of it I gained self confidence and learned to embrace who I was without shame. This pageant taught me some speaking skills such as how to speak boldly and proudly about what I believe in. My platform plays a major role in my life, and it’s my main reason for continuing in my studies. Because I was adopted I understand all the difficulties adoptees have to face, all the reason why I’m attending university to gain a better understanding beyond just my own experiences in order to be able to help those in the future. To any girl out there whose considered or has an opportunity to be a part of a pageant, I would say by all means GO FOR IT! You’ll learn many things about yourself that you never would have known, you’ll be pushed beyond your limits but it’ll help you become a better person. Embrace who who you’ve been uniquely created to be, and be PROUD of it. Stand up boldly for what you believe and not let anyone sway you.